Opinion: It’s time for Assange to stop using WikiLeaks as a smokescreen

On Friday, three women in Russia were handed two year prison sentences for walking into a Moscow cathedral and performing a three minute protest song about the rotten state of their government, led by one man (Putin) in some shape or other, for nearly 13 years. The verdict has been condemned by the UK, US and German governments, human rights groups and the EU, who see this as a real test of Russia’s and Vladimir Putin’s credentials as a the leader of a ‘democratic’ state, something that has been steadily weakening since the farcical events of their presidential elections a number of months ago.

This, of course, is the case of Pussy Riot, the Russian girl band who had the nerve to question both the power of the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church, in one swoop. These women can be held up as true political prisoners, three women who tussled with their government and their leader and unfortunately have paid the price for it.

Cut to 48 hours later and another self-proclaimed political prisoner appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, this time delivering a message to Barrack Obama and his administration in the US, advising it to return to the ‘”revolutionary values it was founded on” or risk “dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark”.

This is in light of the imprisonment without proper trial of the WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning in the US, a deeply worrying treatment of an individual who helped highlight the untruths and misinformation spread by the US government in regards to the deaths of civilians in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the alleged use of torture by American troops in warzones. All this is agreeable rhetoric; WikiLeaks serves a very important role and place in our world in holding to account powerful governments of many different countries in ways that few ordinary citizens can. Assange is now using the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as a base to avoid being deported due to a warrant being released for his arrest.

However, Assange is no political prisoner. This warrant for his arrest did not emerge from the murky depths of the Pentagon. Instead, it has been issued by Sweden, a liberal democracy and a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights. Oh, and it is for rape. Assange had been accused two years ago of raping two women, two women who have been watching the accused parade himself in front of adoring fans yesterday in exclusive Knightsbridge as some kind of prisoner of conscience when really the individual in question has been running scared from a country whose legal system is seen as being one of the fairest in the world and a country that would be highly unlikely to deport him to the US.

Assange needs to stop using WikiLeaks as a smokescreen to prevent him from facing a fair trial for a very serious offence, unrelated to that of the plight of Manning and WikiLeaks. There is no reason for Assange and his supporters to fear his deportation; there is no more chance of him ending up in America if he was in Sweden, the UK or, for that reason, Ecuador. Assange, ironically, is now a prime example of someone who is rich, powerful and elusive enough to avoid proper scrutiny and justice, something which is quite opposite to the values behind the important work of his WikiLeaks.

Assange, in his almost Martin Luther King esque appearance on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, described himself as ‘in unity’ with the women unfairly imprisoned in Russia, clear similarities being drawn in the speech between his case and that of the innocent Pussy Riot. The sooner that myth is dispelled and the sooner the distinctions are made between his case and that of countless political prisoners across the world, the better.

* President of Exeter University Liberal Democrats and Executive Member for the Liberal Democrat Mental Health Association

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102 Comments

  • David Rogers 21st Aug '12 - 11:42am

    Remind me why this Australian was in the UK in the first place?

  • I described Assange in my blog post today as a “malignant narcissist”. I may have been being too kind.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 12:43pm

    No mention here of the Swedish police’s refusal to interview Assange in the UK, nor of the fact that they decline even to give a reason for this.

    Sorry, but I am less persuaded than ever of that Assange can receive proper justice for whatever crimes he may or may not have committed.

    The more it goes on, the more evidence mounts that there is indeed a high level conspiracy against him. Liberal Democrats should be looking more deeply at questions like this than this rather superficial comment piece.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 12:45pm

    Good article. This is certainly something that people of liberal and democratic persuasions should be opining on!

    It seems that Ecuador has either misunderstood the situation, or its politicians are using Assange for their own purposes. The latter seems to be suggested by some TV reports. Not many right-thinking people would want to prevent a respected police force from investigating rape.

    Just because a person does some good doesn’t mean they should be allowed to get away with bad things. Is Wikileaks all good? It might help against dictators etc, but many right-thinking people would disapprove of leaking state secrets that might endanger our people’s lives.

    Why doesn’t Assange seize the initiative, go to the US openly, and argue his case there? With all this public fuss, would he really be subjected to waterboarding and the like? Couldn’t the US extradite him from the UK if they wanted to? It seems they can do that for the poor chap who set up a website helping people pirate copyrighted material.

  • Totally agree with the author, Assange needs to face justice in Sweden. We are not talking about Russia or even the USA here but a state where the rule of law is upheld…

    We must remember to separate the good work of WikiLeaks from the actions of it’s founder. Whilst Assange, and it appears many of his supporters including that other self publicist Galloway, feel consent is optional thankfully the law in Sweden and the UK is clear this is not the case….

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 1:04pm

    On the question of the Swedish police’s refusal to interview Assange in the UK, an explanation woul certainly help. Also a sense of whether that would be the normal way of doing things. But Asaange appealed here in the UK and the appeal was turned down by judges who presumably are well informed on this matter. Do Assange’s supporters go so far as to suggest that anything that displeases them points to institutional corruption?

    Hague and the Foreign Office seem to have mis-handled the matter. Storming the embassy, or violating Ecuador’s freedom, was never an option. But Ecuador needs to accept law and morality too.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:08pm

    @ Richard Dean

    I thought you were being sarcastic in making your posting, but clearly not.

    If you examine in detail the case against Assange, it is deeply inconsistent, indeed worryingly so.

    The Swedish justice system has repeatedly refused to follow due process here, which must give rise to major concerns about the motivation behind its determination to extradite Assange from the UK.

    Just one look at the timeline for this case, from the BBC news site, shows it is far from being open and shut. Simply branding Assange as a rapist who must be banged up in jail, job done, is both hasty and prejudicial.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11949341

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:09pm

    @Steve Way
    “Totally agree with the author, Assange needs to face justice in Sweden.”

    Given how the Swedish justice authorities have behaved so far, how can he possibly “face justice”. Justice has already been well and truly trampled all over. How can he have a fair trial?

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:14pm

    I am really worried by the witch hunt tone of comments here. If you look in detail at the facts of the case and the run up to where we are now, there are serious concerns about whether legal process has been followed and if not, why not.

    All commenters here seem to be able to do is shout “Hear, hear! Bang up the rapist!”.

    Shame on you. Shame.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 1:20pm

    This is not a witch hunt at all. People are just arguing that a police force should be allowed to question a suspected rapist. And those women have rights too.

    Nor do the facts give rise to concern about legal process. Assange appealed and there is no reason to suppose that that appeal process was corrupted.

    While the selection of case details that have been published may be interesting, it is less clear whether we should be acting as jury. If Assange is charged there will be a jury in Sweden.

  • All the myths surrounding the Assange case were effectively debunked by David Allen Green:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/david-allen-green/2012/08/five-legal-myths-about-assange-extradition

    That’s enough. It’s time for Assange to stop prevaricating and his supporters to stop heaping legitimacy on his prevaricating. He needs to go to Sweden to face trial and that’s it.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 1:25pm

    I think the case for JA not going to Sweden should also be made because the UK MSM does not seem to be doing so – this site views the issue from JA’s side – it includes:

    “Here is a piece that appeared in The Herald Sun, but do note that it seems to be an Opinion piece. Nonetheless, other reports seems to be corroborating the story.

    “Both women boasted of their of their respective celebrity conquests on internet posts and mobile phones texts after the intimacy they would now see him destroyed for.

    “***** hosted a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the ‘crime’ and tweeted to her followers that she was with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”

    “***** has sought unsuccessfully to delete these and thereby destroy evidence of Assange’s innocence. She has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends.

    “Their sms texts to each other show a plan to contact the Swedish newspaper Expressen before hand in order to maximise the damage to Assange.

    “They belong to the same political group and attended a public lecture given by Assange and organised by them.

    “The exact content of *****’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and generally positive content about Assange has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors.

    “The consent of both women to sex with Assange has been confirmed by prosecutors. Niether *****’s nor *****’s texts complain of rape.”

    James D. Catlin is a Melbourne barrister who acted for Assange in London earlier this year.”

    Note: My editing of the names.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/wikileaks-founder-granted-asylum-how-consensual-sex-became-rape

    There was a debate on Newsnight where it was asserted that four of the US whistle blowers on US interrogation technics at Guantanamo Bay were firstly arrested for a ‘crime’ not connected to the whistle blowing.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:27pm

    @ George Potter

    At the time of his arrival in the UK he was not wanted by the Swedish police, so your comment, which implies guilt (“He came here to escape the Swedish police”) is factually incorrect. The arrest warrant was issued after his arrival here.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 1:33pm

    The BBC news timeline mentioned by Robert is indeed interesting, and open to several interpretations.

    One is that someone put pressure on Marianne Ny to re-open the case on 1 September 2010

    Another is that Assange put pressure on Swedish investigators to drop the charges on 21 August, and that Marianne Ny recognized this and acted correctly to re-open the case on 1 September.

    Neither would seem to be relevant to a Swedish jury’s deliberations on the charges against him.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:35pm

    @ Richard Dean

    “People are just arguing that a police force should be allowed to question a suspected rapist.”

    Which they can do in the UK, and have refused to, for reasons they decline to disclose.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 1:37pm

    @ Christian De Feo

    It’s not the “myths” I’m worried about. It’s the FACTS that worry me.

  • @Robert Carruthers

    Glib nonsense. Read the article, deal with the facts and you’ll see that Assange should go face trial in Sweden. An open trial is the only legitimate, fair means by which this mess can be sorted out.

  • Robert Carruthers 21st Aug '12 - 2:07pm

    @ Christian de Feo

    It is YOU who are not dealing with the facts. If you look at the facts surrounding the origins and process of this case, they are deeply disturbing.

    As for glibness, the New Statesman article didn’t even graze the surface of the real problems surrounding the case.

  • It’s a murky case exasperated by attitudes to rape. One side are adamant that it seem like a conspiracy and the other seem to be suggesting that an accusation is almost the same as proof if guilt.
    I wonder how this case would look if anonymity were extented to both the suspect and accusers. Coz, it sometimes seems to me that the crime of rape has been politicised for understandable historic reasons, and social reasons, but which nonetheless sometimes seems driven by a desire to bypass the assumption of innocence until proved guilt.y .

  • It is worth reading the judgement before accusing our judiciary

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 2:44pm

    In what way are facts surrounding the origins and process “deeply disturbing”? Apart from the obvious and quite credible and human possibilities I mentioned earlier? It looks to me like there may have been early mistakes, but that the people in Sweden are now back on the right track. Please provide more detailed arguments!

    Most European systems of justice are well versed in sorting out truths from lies. What reason is there to believe that the UK and Swedish justice systems can’t do this? Are people really saying that the highest court in the UK – the Supreme Court – is incompetent, and that the Swedish justice system is too?

  • Sweden has just said that they won’t send Assange to the USA if he faces the death penalty:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/sweden-says-it-will-not-extradite-assange-to-us-if-he-faces-death-penalty-2012-8

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 3:03pm

    @ Robert Carruthers – re. origins of the case – this from the Mail in a report a few weeks after the issue arose.

    “His supporters pointed out that the allegations came just a few weeks after WikiLeaks became embroiled in a dispute with the Pentagon over its publication of classified war documents, which the U.S. says endangers the lives of its soldiers and their Afghan allies.

    The website plans to release more documents.

    Sources in Sweden take a different view – they insist it was Assange’s louche behaviour and his chauvinistic attitude that led to the charges.

    One of the women claimed in a Swedish newspaper: ‘The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem taking no for an answer.’

    Adding to the confusion was the seemingly speedy decision by the Swedish police and prosecution service to charge Assange and issue a warrant for his arrest, even before formal statements had been taken from the women, only to have the rape charge dropped 24 hours later.

    The sexual molestation charge was then reduced to one that is punishable by little more than a slap on the wrist.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1307137/Supporters-dismissed-rape-accusations-WikiLeaks-founder-Julian-Assange–women-involved-tell-different-story.html#ixzz24BjhPT4c

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 3:29pm

    With Wikileaks releasing new documents all the time, there would always have been some event that had happened just recently. It doesn’t mean that the charges are trumped up. And now, instead of congratulating the Swedish police on a rapid investigation of allegations of serious offences, we are expected to criticize them for not being slow! It is JA’s supporters whose attitudes are “deeply disturbing”. And although Hague and the Foreign Office may be fools, the Ecuadoreans have also made a mistake.

    Pussy Riot seems more complex than the media suggest. It now seems that half the Russian population support their ludicrously harsh sentence, perhaps because the Christian church in Russia was itself a victim of state suppression. When Pussy Riot did their thing, some of those worshippers and church officials might even have thought that this was the KGB finding a creative new way to announce their contempt for worship. Some of last summer’s UK rioters seem to have got rather harsh sentences too!

  • David Allen 21st Aug '12 - 3:33pm

    “This is certainly something that people of liberal and democratic persuasions should be opining on! ”

    I beg to disagree. The facts are as clear as mud. Both sides have a plausible case. Those of us who have merely read the news and the contradictory blogs cannot validly have an opinion. On this occasion, we should all shut up!

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 3:42pm

    Is there some LibDem philosophy that regulates when a person is allowed to form and express an opinion and when not?

  • The issues around the reliability of those making the accusations are rightly those a Jury should decide. If there is a case to answer then it should be answered. I have seen nothing that points to Sweden having a corrupt legal system and if he is innocent then I am sure he will be found so. As to those insisting the Swedish should question him here that would not be acceptable if another European country put that barrier up to UK authorities when a warrant has been issued and he should not get that special dispensation.

    All of the coverage on this matter is going to be swayed by the bias of the media operation involved, but reading the judgment I would say the Judges have considered the legal position clearly, and as I believe in the rule of law (and this is not the one sided process we have with the US) I believe he should be extradited.

    As to Ecuador, as almost half of their exports are to the US which currently are free from import duty I would think them more likely to give in to pressure to extradite to the US if the Death Penalty was possible then Sweden, the UK or indeed any signatory of the ECHR.

    Of course Hague has not exactly played a blinder and we will have lost a significant part of the moral high ground with his threat to forcibly enter the embassy.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 3:52pm

    @ Richard Dean

    The real problem seems to be – should JA go to Sweden to face these charges and receive the predicted ‘slap on the wrist’ and should his arrival there coincide with the US asking for him to be extradited to face the ‘leaks’ charges and the same process that has applied to Bradley Manning and the other whilst blowers apply – it is unlikely JA will be seen again as a free man and he is also likely to be persuaded that Wikileaks should end.

    The question is – is this the best outcome?

    I suspect that Sweden is preferred because there would not be the public outcry in Sweden as there would be in the UK.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 4:04pm

    In case anyone hasn’t kept in touch with how Bradley Manning is being treated – this from an article entitled:

    Bradley Manning defense files motion to dismiss charges over pre-trial abuse

    The abuse referred to is [from the same article]:

    Mendez was referring to the nearly one year that Manning spent in Quantico, Virginia, from July 2010 to April 2011. During this period, Manning was kept in a six- by eight-foot cell for 23 to 24 hours a day.

    Forced by guards to stay awake between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. each day, Manning was also denied the right to exercise in his cell, use the cell walls as a backrest, or lie down at any point during the daytime.

    For six months, Manning was given only 20 minutes of “sunshine call” per day, during which time he was told to walk in lace-less shoes, with shackles on his ankles and wrists and a guard’s hand on his back.

    Manning was also forced to sleep naked and to stand naked in front of multiple guards at parade rest position. Guards sometimes took away Manning’s glasses and forced him to reply in the affirmative when they “checked on him” at five-minute intervals.

    Manning’s overseers justified this cruel treatment as necessary to prevent Manning from inflicting harm upon himself or others. This argument carries no weight, as several military psychologists and hundreds of law professors have explained.

    The Article 13 motion highlights the baseless nature of this claim by quoting interactions between psychiatrists and military officials.

    When military psychiatrists recommended better treatment for Manning, an official reportedly replied, “We’ll do whatever we want to do. You [the psychiatrists] make your recommendation and I have to make a decision based on everything else.”

    The psychiatrist responded, “Then don’t say it’s based on mental health. You can say it’s MAX [maximum] custody, but just don’t say that we’re somehow involved in this,” to which the senior officer said, “That’s what we’re going to do.”

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/mann-a16.shtml

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 4:16pm

    The best outcome is for JA to go to Sweden and submit himself to the verdict of a Swedish jury and possible sentence of a Swedish judge – and they appeals processes there too. The allegations that were described in the UK Supreme Court’s report are not as trivial as a slap-on-the-wrist thing, but are less serious than some forms of rape, such as rape at knifepoint.

    Any outcry in the UK would not diminish just because JA was in Sweden. JA is as visible to UK observers in Sweden as he is in the UK. And it seems anyway that Sweden won’t extradite (a) if JA faces the death penalty or (b) if the UK doesn’t agree too.

    There is the possibility of a counter-outcry too. What would women voters in the UK feel if the UK government refused to allow an investigation into rape , and moreover by a man whose other actions may have helped to put some of their sons’ lives in danger?

    Is it possible that, contrary to legend, JA might actually be rather inexperienced sexually? Or maybe he’s just never been refused before? But perhaps the basic problem is what Christian De Feo identified – a “malignant narcissist” would likely face huge psychological barriers to recognizing his or her own faults.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 4:29pm

    The World Socialist Website’s description of Bradley Manning’s ordeal certainly indicates that the US Military’s justice system has collapsed, with top officials not just unable to stop the abuse, but actively encouraging it.

    But do we say that one injustice means that anotheer is permissible? Does the failure of the US Military mean that JA is allowed to escape the processes of Swedish law? Two wrongs do not make a right.

  • @John Roffey
    “should his arrival there coincide with the US asking for him to be extradited to face the ‘leaks’ charges”

    I’m not sure this logic holds up. The UK has such an easy extradition process with the US, as the McKinnon case shows, that surely they would have been better advised to extradite him from here. Both Sweden and the UK would need to ensure that there would be no threat of the Death Penalty.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 4:45pm

    @ Richard Dean

    We don’t know what is the case, however, without wishing to smear a whole nation of males, JA is an Australian and the Australian male has not got the greatest reputation for sensitivity.

    For me what JA has revealed about the dark workings of governments has been of great importance and, although I do suspect he will be locked up and the key thrown away – eventually – I would prefer his work to continue for as long as possible.

    Although I have sympathy for the viewpoint of the women in this case – I cannot view the resolution of his apparent crime as being even close to the importance of his work continuing for as long as possible – even if this does upset the womenfolk.

    In Britain we have seen how his supporters are prepared to come out in force to protect him from dubious procedures – I very much doubt this would be the case in Sweden.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 4:49pm

    @ Steve Way

    I think it returns to the question ‘Is JA doing important work’ – if ‘yes’ then by staying in the embassy he will be able to continue – if ‘no’ then he should go and face the charges in Sweden.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 4:56pm

    The idea, that the importance of a person’s work frees that person to commit crimes against women, is sick.

  • ” JA is an Australian and the Australian male has not got the greatest reputation for sensitivity. ”

    Oh FFS. Can you imagine if this comment had been made about Jamaican or Nigerian men?

    “I think it returns to the question ‘Is JA doing important work’ – if ‘yes’ then by staying in the embassy he will be able to continue – if ‘no’ then he should go and face the charges in Sweden.”

    Ah – maybe the pages on the “important work” defence got stuck together when I studied criminal law.

  • Richard Swales 21st Aug '12 - 5:04pm

    @Richard Dean,

    If half the population of the UK were to support locking someone up (perhaps Nick Griffin) on a politically motivated charge of hooliganism then it wouldn’t make doing it acceptable. That’s why while laws for everyone are set democratically, court decisions for individual cases are delivered independently, not by referendum.

  • Richard Swales 21st Aug '12 - 5:06pm

    My comment above relates to Richard’s part post about pussy riot, not his more recent posts about Assange.

  • @John Roffey
    I have an important job so I am immune to prosecution, only the little people get to face justice….

    The only question is whether there is a case to answer. If so it should be answered. If the witnesses or their testimony prove to be unsafe they should be exposed to an open judicial system. To allow an individual to avoid this because of their job is hugely offensive and not just to those you insultingly refer to as “womenfolk”.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 5:10pm

    @ Richard Dean

    Don’t we have to decide the importance of various matters regularly in our daily lives simply to exist?

    This one doesn’t seem to share your views – but I would be interested to hear the opinion of those that do.:)

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/is-helen-mirren-right-about-date-rape-915788.html

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 5:29pm

    @ Hywel

    I think you should be addressing your comments to Fosters Lagers – the difference is, I would assume, that the majority of Aussie males would take it as a compliment.

    @ Steve Way

    Perhaps Dylan’s ‘If you live outside the law you must be honest’ – is the most appropriate response.

    Womenfolk was not intended to be insulting – you must explain to me why it is so!

  • Keith Browning 21st Aug '12 - 6:02pm

    He has not been accused of rape – no-one has accused him of rape – so why is the word being used so liberally. I am totally shocked how so many ‘liberals’ are taking the establishment side in this. He was released after questioning once and then allowed to go.

    Those of you remember the John Stalker enquiry will remember how suddenly ‘trumped up’ accusations were made as soon as he got close to the truth in North Ireland. This case seems to have an almost identical M.O.

  • @Keith Browning
    “He has not been accused of rape”

    If you follow the link I put up earlier you can see the details of the offences he is due to be questioned over as per the EAW and according to that document number 4 is indeed rape.

    Having read the court papers there is a case to be answered. It is not Liberal to believe that sexual offences should not be investigated, and where appropriate, charges laid, it is anarchistic.

    Wikileaks has done a great service at times. As an ex serviceman I remember clearly watching the apache video with a friend still serving and the word we both used was murder. But this does not put it’s founder above the law. Just as the US military and the pilot involved should not be above the law.

    @John Roffey
    Assange is not, nor should he be outside the law and whatever the outcome of the charges the fact he did not meet his bail conditions also mean he has been less than honest. As for the womenfolk comment. In the context you made it, which was saying that his work meant he should be immune from prosecution “even if this does upset the womenfolk” it is indeed insulting implying as it does that female views on sexual assaults are less important than Assange’s ability to avoid a court appearance.

  • Kieth Browning.
    Sorry, I used the word out of context.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 6:45pm

    @Keith Browning
    According to the court judgment quoted earlier by Steve Way, he is accused of four charges, one of unlawful coercion, two of molestation, and one of rape. The link is http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html

    @Richard Swales
    Who says it’s a politically-motivated decision? Why, it’s those same people who say that something that is supported by half the population is not democratic! I wonder what democracy means then?

    @John Roffey
    Is Helen Mirren an authority on this subject, or just a commentator like most other people? Does she have some kind of special status and knowledge?

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 6:46pm

    JA is accused, not Steve!

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 6:48pm

    Not every Australian male is a Foster’s sterotype. Most aren’t.

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '12 - 6:55pm

    Very heartening to read such a sensible article and equally sensible comments from most commenters. Those Assange worshippers camped outside the Ecudaorian embassy ought to be ashamed of themselves.

    Assange’s apologists really need to face the fact that however admirable they may think his Wikileaks activity is, it has nothing whatsoever to do with his personal conduct. I had a similar moment of discomfort some years ago when I found out that John Lennon was a self-confessed wife-beater. In the end I came to the conclusion that it was perfectly possible to admire him as a musical genius while disliking him as a man.

    @Robert Carruthers
    You are an amateur pundit sitting at home reading stuff off the web. I have much more faith in the Swedish courts arriving at the right conclusion than I do you (and I don’t know what the right conclusion is; you don’t know either, but unlike you at least I know that I don’t know.)

    @Keith Browning
    I can’t believe you are shocked that “liberals” should be judging these accusations on their own merits, instead of simply assuming that it must all be a big conspiracy. That sounds like a lousy way of doing justice.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 8:17pm

    @ Steve Way

    I think you have misunderstood the Dylan quote. If no one lives outside the law – the established order is never challenged. You may believe that the established order is more or less perfect – in which case you will want everyone to live within the law. If you do not – challenge is essential. Assange has most certainly lived outside the law.

    @ Richard Dean

    Helen Mirren is a woman – if you view my post you will see I was trying to encourage other women to comment so that we could be assured we were not putting words into their mouths!

    I can’t say whether the majority of Aussie males would be complimented by being described as insensitive – but I suspect Fosters have researched the matter thoroughly.

    I think a general comment on the issue of women’s rights might be appropriate here. Whilst I am generally in favour of consolidating these I think it is important to recognise that the coming economic power house, the Chinese, [currently taking over an increasing number of UK business activities] are likely to be operating under the Confusion viewpoint of the relationship between men and women, as is generally the case in the East. An example from the I Ching:

    The sovereign I is T’ang the Completer. This ruler decreed that the imperial
    princesses should be subordinated to their husbands in the same manner as
    other women (cf. Hexagram 11, six in the fifth place). The emperor does not
    wait for a suitor to woo his daughter but gives her in marriage when he sees
    fit. Therefore it is in accord with custom for the girl’s family to take the
    initiative here.

    We see here a girl of aristocratic birth who marries a man of modest
    circumstances and understands how to adapt herself with grace to the new
    situation. She is free of all vanity of outer adornment, and forgetting her rank
    in her marriage, takes a place below that of her husband, just as the moon,
    before it is quite full, does not directly face the sun.

    More @:
    http://deoxy.org/iching/54

    Utterly contradictory to current Western thinking – but do women feel they will be able to maintain their rights against employers with such a mindset ?

  • @John Roffey
    Living outside the law by leaking documents for the public good is one thing and has many supporters myself included. Attempting to avoid laws relating to sexual assault is totally different but you seem to feel that by doing the former we should tolerate the other.

  • How can he possibly get a fair trial after all the publicity. This case would probably have not made it to trial in the UK based on the testimony I have read about on the various media outlets. I am not suggesting he should not be questioned by the Swedish authorities but I cannot understand why he cannot be questioned by the UK police and the details of that inquiry passed to their Swedish counterparts.

    I think Assange has been maive in some of his actions in the past but whilst I am now fan of his or his actions but the whole thing is starting to look very fishy.

    Would the Swedes hand him over to the Americans, I would not bet against the possibility if Assange were to pitch up in Sweden.

    I can’t help think of this below from Wikipedia on “Extraordinary Rendition” and the Swedish govt.

    Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptians who had been seeking asylum in Sweden, were arrested by Swedish police in December 2001. They were taken to Bromma airport in Stockholm, had their clothes cut from their bodies, suppositories inserted in their anuses and in diapers, overall, handcuffs and chains put on an executive jet with American registration N379P with a crew of masked men. They were flown to Egypt, where they were imprisoned, beaten, and tortured according to reports by Swedish investigative pogramme “Kalla fakta”[79] The Swedish ambassador visited them only six weeks later. Agiza was previously charged and sentenced in absentia with being an Islamic militant and was sentenced to 25 years, a sentence that was reduced to 15 years due to the political pressure after the Rendition became known. Al-Zery wasn’t charged, and after two years in jail withouth ever seeing a judge or prosecutor he was sent to his village in Egypt. In 2008 AL Zery was awarded 500 000 dollars in damages by the Swedish government for the wrongful treatment he received in Sweden and the subsequent torture in Egypt.

  • John Roffey 21st Aug '12 - 8:39pm

    @ Steve Way

    Once you have decided to live outside the law – that can be all laws – providing you are honest!

    Viewed in these terms – the question is does JA believe he is being honest by living outside the Swedish law. That is to say – does he really believe it is a ploy to get him extradited to the States – or is he using this as an excuse to escape justice.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 8:56pm

    “To live outside the law you must be honest’ is referring to something more fundamental than laws. All of us learn from others; we rely on others’ experiences to guide our own lives and to determine our own feelings about ourselves. If we need to re-think those things, if we’ve got confused and need find our own selves, live outside those guidelines or laws, then there’s no point believing fantasies about ourselves – we’d better be honest.

    Dylan is proposing a general principle to help someone survive through this kind of deep psychological depression and self-doubt. In this sense, there seems no evidence whether JA has lived outside the law or not. Perhaps quite the reverse, if the comment about “malignant narcissist” is correct. But perhaps he is beginning to feel depressed now, and maybe the general principle can help him. Perhaps even the wise Helen, and even Confucius, can help too!

  • Richard Swales 21st Aug '12 - 9:26pm

    Richard Dean (on pussy riot verdict) “Who says it’s a politically-motivated decision? Why, it’s those same people who say that something that is supported by half the population is not democratic! I wonder what democracy means then?”

    That it might or might not be politically motivated is another question I am not qualified to answer, but the fact the decision is supported by the half of the country that votes for United Russia anyway is irrelevant. That there is a system of individual criminal case trials not subject to wider public opinion is something that is democratically established (in most countries through a constitution). Currently individual trials are (democratically confirmed as being) outside the scope of democracy, both in Russia and the UK.

  • @John Roffey
    The position Assange claims, and you feel is reasonable, i.e. that the US are waiting until Assange is in a country with a restricted extradition treaty rather than use the bilateral agreement which requires no prima facie case is nonsensical.

    But your stated position is worse than nonsensical. You state that whatever his guilt he should be allowed to continue his work and not answer for the alleged offences.

    Personally I believe that everyone has a right to live without fear of sexual assault, and that if they claim to have been the victim of one then that claim should be thoroughly investigated. And I really don’t care who is involved, if the investigation leads the authorities to believe that the matter is worthy of a judicial hearing then the accused should stand trial. You state that challenge is essential and it is, but on freedom of information, on dodgy dossiers on the blatant murder of non combatants. We do not need to challenge whether everyone has the right to consent prior to sexual practices. In a civilised society that should never be up for debate.

  • @John
    “I think you should be addressing your comments to Fosters Lagers – the difference is, I would assume, that the majority of Aussie males would take it as a compliment.”

    I think your just making yourself look ridiculous.

  • >Helen Mirren is a woman – if you view my post you will see I was trying to encourage other women to comment so that >we could be assured we were not putting words into their mouths!

    No idea on the Assange case and no one commenting here does either: that’s why we (and Sweden) have courts. So these things can be examined properly, not determined by what someone’s read in a newspaper or thinks may be the case.

    Helen Mirren has hopefully never been forced to do something against her will by someone she made the mistake of thinking was a nice bloke.
    Rape is rape. No women ‘asks for it’. No means no. Going on a date with someone does not mean they can they do as they please with you.

    Does that help?

  • @Richard Dean

    We are of course free to interpret Dylan’s words as we see fit . However, in this case, I would suggest that JA sees himself as a revolutionary who is using the 21st century’s battlefield – the internet – instead of previous century’s freedom fighters and weapons. Revolutionaries, of what ever form, disobey existing order [the laws], but will fail if the laws they do live by are not consistent with whatever new ideal they are seeking to achieve.

  • @ Steve Way

    I think you have misinterpreted what I wrote – perhaps my previous post helps to make it more transparent..

  • Stuart Mitchell 21st Aug '12 - 11:06pm

    So in order to excuse his behaviour, we have to sign up to the notion that this “new ideal” encompasses the sexual penetration of women while they are sleeping.

    Don’t worry Cassie – opinions like some of those you see above are extremely rare.

  • @ Hywel

    ‘I think your just making yourself look ridiculous.’

    You might be right – or it could be that I am living in a world that more reflects reality than the one that you live in!

  • Stuart>Don’t worry Cassie – opinions like some of those you see above are extremely rare.

    Thank. But not as rare as they should be, sadly.
    Like apologists for Roman Polanski, because they like his films.

  • @John Roffey
    “Although I have sympathy for the viewpoint of the women in this case – I cannot view the resolution of his apparent crime as being even close to the importance of his work continuing for as long as possible – even if this does upset the womenfolk.”

    I don’t see any possibility of misinterpreting these words or the views you have stated on this thread. You believe his work with Wikileaks puts him above a trial for sexual offences, I don’t. And if the evidence warrants it, whatever his ideals, his views or his achievements in any other sphere I never will.

  • @ Stuart Mitchell

    The point is we do not know what happened – at one point is was described as ‘sex by surprise’!

    http://www.examiner.com/article/wikileaks-founder-granted-asylum-how-consensual-sex-became-rape

    However, if we return to the earliest account we have – from the Mail [above]:

    “His supporters pointed out that the allegations came just a few weeks after WikiLeaks became embroiled in a dispute with the Pentagon over its publication of classified war documents, which the U.S. says endangers the lives of its soldiers and their Afghan allies.

    The website plans to release more documents.

    Sources in Sweden take a different view – they insist it was Assange’s louche behaviour and his chauvinistic attitude that led to the charges.

    One of the women claimed in a Swedish newspaper: ‘The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem taking no for an answer.’

    Adding to the confusion was the seemingly speedy decision by the Swedish police and prosecution service to charge Assange and issue a warrant for his arrest, even before formal statements had been taken from the women, only to have the rape charge dropped 24 hours later.

    The sexual molestation charge was then reduced to one that is punishable by little more than a slap on the wrist.”

    If this was the reality – think it is too early to describe it as rape – as was clearly the view of those who first investigated the incident.

  • @ Steve Way

    Let us surmise, suppose some of the information JA leaks in the future shows that Tory spending ministers had entered into very generous health contracts with Tory donors, paid from the NHS budget, which meant that very ill NHS patients could not get the treatment they needed. His revealing of these contracts results in the excessive payments being recovered and these very ill patients get the treatment they need.

    Would you then prefer that he had surrendered himself to the Swedish authorities if they had passed him over to the US – which resulted in his work ending.

    I know this is just an example – but the work he does is likely to expose corruption that has had extremely damaging effect on the weakest in our and other societies.

  • People here really seem to have got themselves very heated! Not surprising, bearing in mind the interaction of several strands of content, rape, the US, secret justice etc which are at the heart of many liberals’ list of concerns. What I cannot quite understand is that so few people here seem to hold concerns on both these fronts together? In other words, yes, of course someone accused of sexual crimes (and there seems to be some controversy as to whether they do actually amount to rape – I take no view on that, and don’t intend to open that one up) should be prepared to face investigation of the accusation. No person, whatever they do, should be above any accusation, and the investigation thereof. I am afraid as politicos of all parties, we have a very bad record of trying to excuse people trials, disciplinary hearings, and sanctions after guilty verdicts, and we need to examine our consciences on that. The case of David Cameron and among others, Andy Coulson and Jeremy Hunt, comes to mind.

    But in this case we also need to see very clearly the issue of dirty tricks – Assange was not JUST trying to avoid sexual allegations by his actions. I am surprised that someone such as Steve Way, a former member of the services, and I am sure knowledgable of the kind of dirty tricks around, has not come out more strongly on this. We cannot just avoid the issues in front of our faces. We should be looking for a solution which consciously bypasses the problem of US obsession with Wikileaks. As Lib Dems we should be in the lead on suggesting solutions. We could not expect Tories to want to solve this issue, or maybe even see it as a problem.

  • Richard Dean 21st Aug '12 - 11:56pm

    John Roffey’s position is obviously ethically untenable, and a valid question to ask is: what measures can be taken that are consistent with liberal and democratic principles and which can prevent theose kinds of views from having effect?

    Assange is not the only person doing this whistleblowing work. He is not necessary to it, and his behaviour is bringing it into such disrepute that the credibility and ethics of the work that is continuing to be done by others is likely suffering.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Aug '12 - 12:02am

    A good way to expose any dirty tricks is for Assange to go to Sweden and defend himself in the court there. Any dirty trick on the part of the US Military will be fairly instantly exposed, and by exposing it JA will have done a great service, as well as gaining protection through the publicity.

  • “A good way to expose any dirty tricks is for Assange to go to Sweden and defend himself in the court there. Any dirty trick on the part of the US Military will be fairly instantly exposed, and by exposing it JA will have done a great service, as well as gaining protection through the publicity.”

    Look, this is a complicated question, and there are arguments on both sides.

    But to say that Assange should go to Sweden and defend himself and that will expose any dirty tricks on the part of the USA is to miss the whole issue.

    The argument on Assange’s side is that these charges are just a device to tie him up in custody for long enough for the USA to make a request for extradition. If that happens it’s of no importance if the Swedish charges disappear in a puff of smoke.

    Just suppose for the sake of argument that these charges have been trumped up for just that reason and that Assange knows they are untrue. Then saying that he should go to Sweden to answer them would amount to the same thing as saying he should go to the USA and give himself up for trial there. That is a point of view, but I don’t think it’s one that many people would expect Assange to agree with.

  • “You might be right – or it could be that I am living in a world that more reflects reality than the one that you live in”

    As John Cleese said to Mr Luxury-Yacht (or was it Norman St John Polevaulter?) – “You’re a very silly man and I’m not going to speak to you” 🙂

  • “(and there seems to be some controversy as to whether they do actually amount to rape)”

    Not by the UK courts AIUI
    http://jackofkent.com/2012/06/assange-would-the-rape-allegation-also-be-rape-under-english-law/

  • But Richard, if there is a dirty trick to be carried out, it will be done, and that will be it. No going back. I am sure arrangements could be made for interviews to be carried out – as I understand that is what the Swedish police currently want to do – at the Ecuadorian Embassy. I think JA has asserted he is quite happy for this to occur. Maybe I am too much of a conspiracy theorist – or too much of a liberal in believing police actions are not creative enough – too much PC Plod, if you like. Some police seem to find it very difficult that there are political movements which may not support their every move, and sometimes a “Let’s get ‘im” mentality slips in.

  • I thought at the time, and I still think now, that “they” must have trailed around after Assange for weeks trying to find a serious charge to get him on. The women seem to have been put up to it, having previously boasted happily of a celebrity shag.

    Unfortunately, because rape is a serious crime and must be investigated, it’s all too easy for us “womenfolk” to cry rape weeks later for all sorts of spurious reasons. Like being dumped or two-timed. Yes it happens all the time and is used by dishonest women as a weapon to ruin men’s lives.

    The police originally dismissed the case and that should have been the end of it. Clearly they too were put up to it.

    As it happens I don’t like Assange and there are other people doing the same work with less narcissistic fanfare. But I do think this is trumped up, it’s politically motivated, and even if he gets a fair trial in Sweden JA will not get fair treatment in respect of extradition once he’s in custody for any reason.

    And god help him if he gets to the US. No foreign national gets fairly treated by the US justice system.

  • Thanks for that, Hywel. Who is David Allen Green by the way?

  • Watch this link and then you can allmake up your own minds
    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.htm

  • @Delooso
    “Watch this link and then you can allmake up your own minds”

    And that is the problem with this whole debate. We could watch an ABC video, read a new statesman article or even god forbid one from the Mail or Torygraph. Doing so may help us make up our minds but will probably not get to the true facts the media have taken their entrenched views on this and have done so for some time. Their output reflects this.

    The court hearings, where both sides have been given chance to state their case, have come to the conclusion that there is a case to answer. It does not mean he is guilty neither does poor behavior by either of his accusers mean he is innocent. The proper place for criminal issues to be resolved is an independent court of law.

    No one has shown Sweden to be incapable of holding such a hearing. Further, no one seems to have considered that if the US really wanted to extradite him the best country in the world for him to be in is the UK. According to reports from early in this saga Sweden has some specific exclusions to their treaty with the US including for political crimes. The UK does not even require a prima facie case to be made before approving extradition to the US even where entrapment has been used (i.e. Christopher Tappin), or where the accused has a clear mental illness (McKinnon).

  • Richard Dean 22nd Aug '12 - 11:50am

    If everyone was allowed to say that they shouldn’t be bothered by due legal process because they think it’s a trumped up charge or a device being used for some other purpose, then every criminal would get away with it. So it looks much more like it is JA who is playing the dirty tricks.

    Nor is it for us to act as jury and judge. Sure there are bad women in the world, but there are also several possible explanations for most things. JA has gone through every available appeals process in UK law, and there’s no reason to presuppose a Swedish trial and appeals process would be unjust.

    important or being a public figure doesn’t put you above the processes of law. If JA had been an ordinary joe, most people would agree that he should be whisked off to face the charges. Just because he’s visible and the US don’t like him, shouldn’t alter that.

  • @Steve Way

    I put the link here as it is the best scource I have seen (so far) in the public domain that would help anyone to arrive at a sensible conclusion regarding the whole Assange rape allegations.

  • @Delooso
    It is the ‘best’ source that backs Assange’s claims. It names the women involved when they could have so easily been anonomised and this fact alone would lead me to question it’s objectivity.

    I would suggest reading the court rulings on BAILII would give a more dry and less opinionated view. The US argument is nonsensical. When Assange was first arrested in the UK the Washington Post ran a story stating that this complicated matters for extraditing to the US as if he was transferred to Sweden it would be harder to extradite him due to the far more restricted treaty. The rules Sweden would have to follow are summarised below. He would easily be able to claim the offence the US wish to try him for is political, indeed it would be hard to argue otherwise. Therefore we are left with the fact that there are claims of sexual offences to be answered in a Country that has far tighter controls on extradition than the UK. If the facts are as portrayed in the video you link to he has little or no chance of being convicted and his name would be cleared.

    Conditions for extradition to a state outside the EU
    The Extradition for Criminal Offences Act prohibits the extradition of Swedish nationals.
    Extradition is permitted, provided that the act for which extradition is requested is equivalent to a crime that is punishable under Swedish law by imprisonment for at least one year. If sentence has been passed in the state applying for extradition, the penalty must be imprisonment for at least four months or other institutional detention for an equivalent period. Thus, extradition requires an offence punishable under the law of both countries (“dual criminality”) that, in principle, is of a certain degree of seriousness.

    Extradition may not be granted for military or political offences. Nor may extradition be granted if there is reason to fear that the person whose extradition is requested runs a risk – on account of his or her ethnic origins, membership of a particular social group or religious or political beliefs – of being subjected to persecution threatening his or her life or freedom, or is serious in some other respect. Nor, moreover, may extradition be granted if it would be contrary to fundamental humanitarian principles, e.g. in consideration of a person’s youth or the state of this person’s health. Finally, in principle, extradition may not be granted if a judgment has been pronounced for the same offence in this country. Nor may extradition be granted if the offence would have been statute-barred by limitation under Swedish law.

    The state requesting for extradition must show that there is reason for extradition in the specific case. The outcome of the crime investigation in the requesting state – generally a conviction or a detention order – must be enclosed with the request for extradition. When extradition is granted, certain conditions may be laid down. For example, without the consent of the Government in the particular case, the person who is extradited may not be prosecuted or punished in the other state for any other offence committed prior to extradition (the “principle of speciality”). Nor may he or she be re-extradited to another state without the consent of the Government. Furthermore, nor may the person who is extradited be sentenced to death.

  • Steve. I keep saying that I too think Assange should answer the allegations made to him by the Swedish authorities. All I would say is that Assange cannot possibly get a fair trial after all the media exposure (see below). It does look “fishy” when you look into the dynamics surrounding the case.

    As for all that bit regarding the naming of the the two women concerned. No, the women should not have been named but unfortunately (sadly even) their names are in the public domain. What is also sad is that statements Assange also made to the police (confidential) were leaked to the Expressen newspaper. Assange had told them that he had legitimate fears that this would occur at the time of the interview, fears that proved to be true. Why would the Swedish police do that?

    Perhaps the solution is that the US govt will issue a statement saying that they will not prosecute Julian Assange for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage as his New York Attorney believes they should.

  • Richard Dean 22nd Aug '12 - 3:49pm

    It is JA and his supporters who are linking the espionage and rape charges. They are seeking to use one charge to get free of the other, and vice versa. None of the autjorities are doing that. A creative way to stay out of jail? A way to not to face ones’ own demons?

    Interesting Sky News report today of how a Belarus dissident may be extradited from Ecuador, to face treason charges and a possible death sentence in Belarus, for doing an internet blog against the despotic head of state there. Perhaps JA could take advantage of his chosen sojourn in an Ecuadorean embassy prison to argue the dissident’s case?

  • Richard Dean 22nd Aug '12 - 4:35pm

    Delooso – instead of providing us all with tedious long citations, why not take the time to look at some of the links provided by other people? Such as the link to the court document provided by Steve Way which details the four allegations including one of rape?

    It looks like Seumas Milne has also swallowed the JA spin hook, line and sinker. Perhaps he should also take the time to read the informative comments on this LDV thread?

  • I repeat, not allegations but what rape charges?

    You advise me to read “tedious long citations” provided by Steve Way regarding court documents but admonish me for doing the same to provide further insight. You have said above that Assange was charged with rape when he has so far not been charged.

    Seamus Milne raises some very pertinent arguments as to why he felt he should remind us all why the US is out to get Assange in his piece.

    I have not sought to pick an argument with anyone on here. As allies of the US we should all be looking at this case and asking questions and debating the issues involved.

    My final post is that I feel that Assange can not be expected to recieve a fair trial in my view as the Swedish authorties have made this case political by releasing information to the press in Sweden. The proceedings so far have shown that this case is unusual to say the least.

  • @Delooso
    My understanding is th at he cannot be charged until the police formally interview him but this is based on second hand info. Also it is worth noting that his supporters have leaked a lot of information although it would be an irony if you feel the man behind wiki leaks cannot be given a fair trial because of leaks.

    As in this country notorious cases require very careful management but a fair trial can be had. Otherwise imagine how many people would escape trial due to the adverse publicity surrounding their cases.

  • John Roffey 26th Aug '12 - 7:31pm

    I have just come across this thread:

    To all men, you are one false allegation away from facing prison

    http://www.democracyforum.co.uk/british-police-state/112869-all-men-you-one-false-allegation-away-facing-prison.html

    He seems genuine – has anyone any comment that might help?

  • @John Roffey

    http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/rapepolicy.html

    Please see the cps document relating to proceeding to trial in rape cases. This is why I would personally not view the blog thread you link to as genuine, certainly not with the facts as described. With the lack of corroborating evidence the CPS would then be forced to consider the liklehood of one individuals word being taken above another’s. In this rape is no different then any crime where there are two active parties and no third parties to corroborate. If you take this to the level the CPS are obliged to do, they would seem extremely likely (in fact almost certain) to decide not to continue if the facts were as stated.

    Ask yourself the question they are obliged to ask, whose account is credible, what set of circumstances are likely to be believed by a jury? The man with no previous history, who has been approached for course fees (which would have an audit trail), whose wife has the history he claims she has. The case would have no chance of succes and therefore would not make it to court. No one is charged unless the CPS feel the case meets the probability of success and oblic interest tests….

  • John Roffey 27th Aug '12 - 9:21am

    @ Steve Way

    I don’t know how much of the thread you read, but I find it difficult to believe this is not a genuine case – he has taken a great deal of time and he has gone to a great deal of trouble to explain his predicament – I seriously doubt that would be the case if what he says is not primarily true.

    I would post much more from the thread, but space is limited [the link is above], however these seem to be the most important issues – although anyone truly interested in the subject should read most of the thread:

    “Can you imagine another crime whereby just a word can be used without any more evidence? Also In practice it can take a year to go to trial from the moment of being charged. That is a 1 year sentence already on someone who might be an innocent person. I would have been on remand for a year in prison if I did not have a bail ,address. I have learnt a lot about the law since it happened and have come to the conclusion that it is the law itself that creates a fertile environment for false allegations to take place. There are several points of law which have contributed to this environment and I shall list them:

    *Availability of compensation to the complaint through CICA before it even gets to trial, to me victims of genuine rape are not interested in money but the availability of money so early to an accuser before it even gets to court is beyond belief, it is as if they are already believed to be true victims before justice is dealt, despite the possibility that the availability of money may sometimes lead to inflated incidents of false claims.

    *Automatic charging of all men as soon as an allegation is made. It is a case of “charge first ask questions later” in every allegation made. As soon as an allegation is made an arrest takes place. The evidence is then given to the police prosecutor. As long as the story makes sense in the statement from the woman with no obvious contradictions then the man is charged and his statement will be ignored even if his statement has no contradictions either.

    *Anonymity guaranteed by law to the complainant without first establishing which party is
    truthful yet damaging the reputation of a man in the worst possible manner when in fact there is a possibility he may not even be guilty. If the law already supports the complainant in this manner before a hearing what chances are there of the jury being any fairer on the accused when the woman is protected already by law and by doing so insinuates she is a genuine victim before the establishment of any facts. I pick my 7 year old nephew up from school every day where I am forced to lodge. Is it fair that if I appear in the newspapers he will be at risk of being bullied at school and my sister and her husband will be vilified for helping me for giving me somewhere to stay?”

    This article has been referred to in the thread – which relates to creating more balance between the those charged with rape and their accusers:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1280752/MELANIE-PHILLIPS-Instead-giving-anonymity-men-charged-rape-accusers.html

    Was the matter included in the Coalition Agreement – and has any progress been made?

  • @john Roffey
    I’m sorry but the time and effort someone takes does not mean the case is genuine. I did indeed read the entire thread and the fact that much of it was at odds with the way these cases are actually handled led to my conclusion.

    Firstly there is no automatic charging as the CPS document shows. Secondly CICA can payout without a successful prosecution but I would urge you to look at the evidence of this happening but this appears to be reserved for where the assailant has not been apprehended or where they an individual has been found not guilty but the crime is not in doubt. The average delay of payout even where harm had been proven would take up the majority of the pre trial phase and part of this would be proving harm. For example there would be a physical and psychological aspect of this both would need to be proven through adequate medical reports. As there was no physical evidence the question of the actual phychological impact would need to be addressed. This could not be established without a more significant timescale than is being claimed.

    As to anonymity I agree it should go both ways. But as it doesn’t the individual in the thread could point us towards the case in question where we could view the court papers. Lives are ruined by false accusations that is undoubtedly true. My problem is not that anonymity does not go both ways or that th eprocedure does not need improving, merely that the case described does not follow the procedures and the circumstances described would not lead to a prosecution. There is only one side to the story on the thread and I would suggest the way the legal process is actually structured suggest it is not a complete one.

  • @john Roffey
    It’s also worth pointing out that the article you refer to actually disproves an aspect of the original thread. In the article it states that only 6% of alleged rapes lead to a conviction, yet 60% of those that reach court lead to a conviction. These figures, if accurate, support my argument and the CPS contention that there is no automatic charge and that only a small percentage actually reach the stage that the thread’s author claims his went to not every accusation.

  • I’m always amazed by how quick people are to blame others. Let us not forget how the US uses extraordinary rendition and that no country seems able to stop them doing whatever they want. If you want a KFC or MiccyD justice in two colours then let them take JA but then you are then part of the problem. Let’s be part of the 21st century and have the court case heard while he is in the Ecudorian embassy. I am sure they will comply with international law and if he is found guilty, which a lot of people here seem to have found him, then he can be held here, at the expense of the Sweedish justice system

  • Surely Assange has the right to political asylum just like anyone else? The UK has clearly established the right to this. We might not like the country granting asylum, nor believe that the asylum seeker has good grounds, but it is the prerogative of the asylum seeker himself to determine whether there is a threat of political persecution. I for one would not trust the US on this.

    The problem is that if Assange travels to Sweden he crosses into a different legal jurisdiction which brings with it a whole set of fears and issues that none, probably not even his own lawyers, could feel safe with.

    The ball is clearly in the court of the Swedish interrogators now. They should bite the bullet and travel to the UK to interview Assange. If a case is established then things might move forward. But we have to accept Assange’s right to asylum.

  • @Judith – I don’t think anyone here has said that rape – or even some Swedish alternative charge – is not an important matter. It is just that there are reasonable circumstantial grounds to suspect that US authorities are out to get this man, possibly by arranging false accusations against him or by taking advantage of a situation which arose out of genuine accusations, and that the Swedish authorities are conniving in that.
    This matter could easily be solved if the Swedish authorities agreed to question him here, and if they decide to charge him, to rule out his future extradition to the US over the Wikileaks matters. But they have refused to do either (except , I gather, in the case of threat of the US death penalty – some comfort, given the treatment of Bradley Manning!). This refusal might reasonably lead one to suspect that the determination they have shown in this case is not solely, or even mainly, related to their desire to uphold justice for the women concerned. Those who are concerned to see justice done over the sexual allegations should be telling the Swedish government to rule out Assange’s extradition to the US; then he would no have no excuse but to go and face the authorities there, and would find few defenders here.

  • Tell Julian Assange to go to Sweden to face charges and to stop wasting British tax payers funds for his silly games.
    If he is innocent – he will go straight away …… ?

  • ‘If he is innocent – he will go straight away …… ?’

    And be extradited to the US, straight away?

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